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Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2013 Dec;43(3):314-24. doi: 10.1016/j.semarthrit.2013.05.001. Epub 2013 Jun 17.

Heart involvement in rheumatoid arthritis: multimodality imaging and the emerging role of cardiac magnetic resonance.

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Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center, 50 Esperou St, 175-61 P.Faliro, Athens, Greece. Electronic address:



Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) exhibit a high risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). CVD in RA can present in many guises, commonly detected at a subclinical level only.


Modern imaging modalities that allow the noninvasive assessment of myocardial performance and are able to identify cardiac abnormalities in early asymptomatic stages may be useful tools in terms of screening, diagnostic evaluation, and risk stratification in RA.


The currently used imaging techniques are echocardiography, single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), and cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR). Between them, echocardiography provides information about cardiac function, valves, and perfusion; SPECT provides information about myocardial perfusion and carries a high amount of radiation; and CMR-the most promising imaging modality-evaluates myocardial function, inflammation, microvascular dysfunction, valvular disease, perfusion, and presence of scar. Depending on availability, expertise, and clinical queries, "right technique should be applied for the right patient at the right time."


In this review, we present a short overview of CVD in RA focusing on the clinical implication of multimodality imaging and mainly on the evolving role of CMR in identifying high-risk patients who could benefit from prevention strategies and early specific treatment targeting the heart. Advantages and disadvantages of each imaging technique in the evaluation of RA are discussed.


Amyloidosis; Cardiac magnetic resonance; Coronary artery disease; Echocardiography; Heart failure; Myocarditis; Nuclear cardiology; Rheumatoid arthritis

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